Blackpool Tower Conservation

Blackpool Tower Conservation

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Blackpool Tower – now Unveiled!

Any eagle eyed visitors to Blackpool over Easter week of 2016 will have seen the last poles of scaffolding finally being removed from Blackpool Tower.

On 31 March 2016 the 518 feet-high landmark was once again finally free of the ‘bandage’ that has moved up and down according to restoration works underneath, covering parts of the steelwork for the last eight years since it was first erected in 2008.

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You’ve been watching the poles and planks disappear, eager for new photos of the now streamlined structure to share on your favourite social media channels.

Nicola Biven was first to share a photo on the Live Blackpool Facebook page – she lives in nearby St Annes and can see the Tower from home. Her daughter, celebrating in the photo, had been really looking forward to seeing the Tower without scaffolding.

These recent works have given Blackpool Tower a really thorough refurbishment – layers of paint have been stripped off with high pressure water and sections of rusted iron work have been replaced. Finally the cleaned and repaired metalwork has been repainted with modern paints in the Tower’s own traditional ‘red-lead’ colour.

It takes seven years just to paint the Tower structure, with the painters climbing the 563 steps from the roof of the building to the top of the Tower to complete this epic task. No doubt Blackpool Council will be hoping that it is a few years before re-painting has to be commissioned again!

Blackpool Tower is 122 years old – it was opened on 14 May 1894 when an estimated 70,000 people entered to see the magnificent new building which was modelled on the Eiffel Tower.

Apparently the Tower wasn’t originally built very well and corroded quite seriously, to the point that when it was about 30 years old there was talk about demolishing it. Thankfully, our ancestors decided instead to replace the metalwork, and our modern restoration follows in their footsteps.

Consider that the Tower cost £290,000 to build back in 1894 – and £6m to refurbish today. So how much would it cost to build a new one from scratch in today’s money?

In 2010 Blackpool Tower was bought by Blackpool Council. The restoration project, costing a whopping £6m in total, was paid for with money from Blackpool Council, the European Regional Development Fund, the Government’s Homes And Communities Agency and the North West Development Agency.


Tower heritage work wins award
(Published December 2016) 

Work to restore The Blackpool Tower’s famous arched frontage has been praised after winning a regional planning award.

Blackpool Tower frontage

The project was commended by the North West branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute at an awards ceremony in December 2015 for the creative way that council planners secured the highest possible standard of repairs for the Tower through their pre-application process.

Last year, Blackpool Council undertook a project to restore nine terracotta arches to the front of the Blackpool Tower building, bringing the façade of the building backs to its original design.

Stained glass windows on the façade were also repaired, re-leaded and put on display for the first time in years, with the finished product revealed last summer.

The completed works not only restore the look of the Tower building, but provide it with more protection from the weathering that it can receive on Blackpool’s seafront.

The heritage conservation project was part of a wider multi-million pound investment to safeguard Blackpool’s biggest assets such as the Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We are taking a really active role in protecting Blackpool’s rich heritage.

“A big part of the Council owning vital assets like the Tower and the Winter Gardens was making sure that they were properly restored and protected, so people could continue to enjoy them for years to come.

“Anybody who has seen the work on the Tower front will agree that it looks spectacular and I’m really pleased that work has been recognised with this commendation.”


Blackpool Tower is Looking Well!
(Published May 2015)

In the last twelve months, the restoration work on the front of the Blackpool Tower building has progressed at a pace, and the central section of stained glass arches is now complete for everyone to enjoy.

Blackpool Tower April 2015
Front of Blackpool Tower in April 2015 with the new name applied


Works are now well under way six months into a project to restore The Blackpool Tower’s famous arched façade.

The heritage conservation project – part of a wider multi-million pound investment to safeguard Blackpool’s biggest assets, The Tower and the Winter Gardens – will see the seafront facing facade restored to its original design.

The first phase of work will see seven of the arches restored with a second phase expected to restore two more.

Stained glass windows are also being restored and re-leaded and will be properly displayed for the first time in many years.

New terracotta keystone ready to be fired for Blackpool Tower
New terracotta keystone ready to be fired for Blackpool Tower

Terracotta on site ready to be fitted at Blackpool Tower
Terracotta on site ready to be fitted at Blackpool Tower

In the last six months a lot of progress has been made with specially commissioned new terracotta now designed and being delivered while painstaking work to safeguard the original brick which is being retained is almost complete.

Damage to the original terracotta through weathering, neglect and changes to the Tower front design, has been sustained over many years and needs to be repaired to protect one of Britain’s best loved buildings.

Damage to the original fabric of Blackpool Towers frontage
Damage to the original fabric of Blackpool Towers frontage

Damage to the original fabric of Blackpool Towers frontage
Damage to the original fabric of Blackpool Towers frontage

The work is being done behind panelling for both safety and aesthetic reasons and to allow the Tower to continue to stay open throughout.

The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Cllr Graham Cain, Blackpool Council cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: “We were keen to provide everyone with an update on the works because we know people will wonder what is going on behind those panels. Progress is being made and work is being done to safeguard the parts of the Tower’s frontage that need to be preserved.

“We are now coming towards a point that some of the new specially designed terracotta, which is faithful to the original design, is starting to be delivered and is ready to be fitted. I want people to know we are being faithful to the Tower’s original design and very sensitive to history.

“The final result won’t be a sea change in how the Tower looks; instead it will preserve and restore the frontage to retain its original quality and character.”

It is hoped some of the works will be complete in time for The Blackpool Tower’s 120th birthday celebration on 14 May.

Blackpool firm, F Parkinson have been appointed as the principal contractor while Francis Roberts Architects of Preston have been responsible for the design of the repairs and restoration.

Local resident and Parkinson’s Project Manager, Peter Evans said that they were able to save three arches worth of the old stained glass from all of nine arches which has been reused in the middle arches. The other specialist elements of this restoration are starting to arrive on site ready for installation.

The Tower is open as normal throughout the duration of the works.

Blackpool Tower unveiled 31.3.16Blackpool Tower unveiled – Taken on 31.3.16 by Nicola Biven

Blackpool Tower almost unveiled 30.3.16Blackpool Tower – almost unvelied on 30.3.16

Restored stained glass arch on the front of Blackpool TowerRestored stained glass arch on the front of Blackpool Tower – August 2014

Stained glass windows on the front of Blackpool TowerStained glass windows on the front of Blackpool Tower.

Photo taken in August 2011 before the front of the building was boarded off for restoration works to begin.

Stained glass windows on the front of Blackpool TowerBoarded in stained glass windows on the front of Blackpool Tower

Front of Blackpool Tower when restoration work startedFront of Blackpool Tower when restoration work started. This photo August 2011.

2 Comments
  1. Avatar

    For no clear reason I woke this morning wanting to learn about the Tower. I am rewarded here with an uplifting story of its splendid restoration. It’s great to read that so much LOCAL talent gathered together to achieve (and raise funds for) what must surely have looked almost impossible! Proper job.

    1. Avatar

      And a proper job it does look too Howard! Glad to hear that you enjoyed your read and found what you were looking for!

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